Latinas’ Pay Equality Problem: What Is It, and What Can Be Done?

As New York City employment lawyers who are deeply concerned with the rights and fair treatment of workers, we nevertheless obviously respect our country’s capitalistic economic institutions. Our society’s view of what’s “fair” is always evolving. Today, the rallying cry “equal pay for equal work” is accepted as obvious common sense. But not long ago, it was considered a radical notion. In fact, in many countries around the world today, it still is.

Even though we’ve come a long way, however, we have farther to go, as Elianne Ramos discusses eloquently in a guest blog post she recently wrote on the official blog of the U.S. Labor Department: “Latinas and Their Families Can’t Afford Unequal Pay for Equal Work (Para Latinas la Desigualdad Salarial Cuesta Mucho).”

Ramos reports that Latinas have made major strides over the years in terms of participation in U.S. politics, higher education and small business operation. However, she warns that “when it comes to pay equality, we seem to be perennially stuck at the bottom of the barrel.”

It’s no secret that working women get just $0.77 for every dollar a man makes (with equivalent experience and education), “yet for Latinas, the gap is even wider… according to National Partnership for Women and Families, in 2003 we made a whopping $0.55 for every dollar a white male made that year.” Per Ramos: “2 million Latino families… rely on women as the main breadwinners.” With so many people in Latino households “living pay check to pay check, barely making ends meet,” these wage discrepancies can be profound and can lead to inequalities that can persist for generations.

Per Ramos, if that wage gap can somehow be eliminated, “a Latina working full-time, year round… would have enough money to cover nearly three years’ worth of food, nearly two years of rent, almost five years’ worth of health insurance premiums and 5,743 additional gallons of gas.” Ramos’s editorial highlights the need to fight to end the wage gap and also to protect workers in the Hispanic community (and in the general community) from falling victim to nickel and dime wage and hour traps, such as illegal siphoning of tips and overtime violations as well as problems like discrimination and retaliation.

For help understanding your rights and potential options in a New York wage and hour case, contact the experienced and highly qualified team here at Joseph & Kirschenbaum to schedule a free consultation. Call us at (212) 688-5640, or email us at info@jhllp.com.